How to dress like a grown up with Sarah Bailey: Go on, treat yourself to a winter Wow Knit

  • Sarah Bailey took knit inspiration from Christopher Kane, Miu Miu and Gucci
  • The brands debuted reinvented Eighties sweaters with crystals and sequins 
  • Sarah recommends investing in supersized knitwear this season 
  • She suggests pairing an oversized cable-knit sweater with a floral maxi dress
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The mercury has dropped and I have a confession to make: I’m relieved. Finally it’s sweater weather!

After more than 20 years working in fashion, I don’t think I can remember a better time to buy a knit, but, infuriatingly, the weather’s been too balmy to actually wear one.

The runways set the tone: Eighties mohair V-necks worn with puffed-sleeve leather at Miu Miu; reinvented Fair Isle pullovers paired with starchy white shirting and sequins at Erdem; supersized Argyles at Gucci; and fabulous, crystal-bestrewn sweaters you could actually hit the dancefloor in at Christopher Kane.

This new breed of fashion knit is no longer focused on providing only a soft and useful layer of insulation. We’re talking pieces that are outfit-makers; style statements in their own right. Put simply, if you have a jumper you can wear to a cocktail bar, or to impress at an important meeting, you, my friend, have met a Wow Knit.

Sarah Bailey took inspiration from the Christopher Kane runway (pictured) for this season’s knitwear trend. She suggests pairing cropped sweaters with knife-pleat skirts

I know what you’re thinking. Knitwear? Meh. My current collection comprises a couple of cashmere sweaters and a jolly Christmas design (strictly office party only) which I have thus far harboured safely from moths. Do I really need anything else?

The answer is: yes you do.

The Wow Knits in the shops today aren’t only outfit-transformers, they are mood-lifters, too (I promise). But, as ever, it pays to choose carefully, because the best ones can cost as much as a good coat.

Supersized is very much the knit trend this season, with many so big you’d actually have trouble fitting a coat over them.

Choose a Crayola shade, such as Zara’s zingy burnt orange number (£39.99, or Essentiel Antwerp’s rich emerald jumper (£185,, and pair with slim black jeans and block-heeled boots.

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On the catwalks at Bottega Veneta, Chloe and Loewe I also noticed luxurious chunky sweaters in more sober shades worn over floaty dresses.

As someone who’s finding it hard to give up floral maxis, I love this trend and will be wearing Uterque’s cream number (£120, over my floor-sweeping dresses and adding stompy boots.

This play on proportion really is the key to getting the Wow Knit look right. As hemlines have fallen over the past two seasons, we have had to look again at what we put on top. The standard length no longer works — you have to go oversized or short.

How do you style jazzy jumpers?

  • Give chunky, cropped sweaters a chance — they look ultra-chic with knife-pleat skirts.
  • Beware the novelty knit. The joke is getting a bit old.
  • Try an oversized cable-knit sweater over your floral maxi dress.
  • Revisit the Eighties with a mohair V-neck over a denim shirt.

This news didn’t stop me having my usual reaction to the slew of cropped sweaters in the shops (midriffs out in winter? Ridiculous!). But after trying a few, I am a convert.

And Other Stories has a soft-as-snow, baby pink, eyelet version (£69 that would work just as beautifully with a knife-pleat skirt as with a pair of slouchy jumbo cords (no midriff-baring necessary). And you know there’s something in the air when labels best-known for their party frocks are creating gorgeous little sweaters to be worn with lace pencil skirts or layers of tulle (£146, Molly Goddard at Wow Knits indeed!

There are plenty of embellished options on the High Street — from H&M’s beaded sweater (£29.99, to Zara’s jewelled bobby-dazzler (£49.99) — that could, of course, all go a bit Toyah Willcox/Pat Butcher in their Eighties glory.

If you can’t resist the bling, be sure to dial down the rest of your look. Repeat after me: no big hair, no doorknocker earrings. Wear with a chic leather pencil skirt, minimal make-up and ankle boots.

Oh, and a word about novelty knits: it is probably best to stay in the chic zone — a Bella Freud slogan knit, say, rather than a huge cartoon animal face, no matter how trendy the label.

Bottom line? Should any sweater suggest accessorising with furry red antlers, just step away from the rail!

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